Exploring Aurangabad was a part of my super budget one day trip to Ellora Caves. Devagiri Express conveniently departed from Mumbai at 21:10, and early in the morning, I reached “the touristic capital of Maharashtra” with my heart longing for an adventure. There was no use leaving the train station before the down, so I went straight to the waiting room and got immersed into my book.
Traveling and reading go hand in hand for me – I like reading in waiting rooms, city gardens, at the bus stations, in the trains. A nice book adds a distinctive flavor to the whole journey and that remains in memory for years to come. Besides, it’s the only way for me to read without “Mama, give me some water!” and “Mama, one puzzle piece is missing!” 🙂 This time it was Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray”, a staple book to read in one’s youth. Well, what can I say, cynical Lord Henry undoubtedly managed to make an impression upon a 15-year-old version of me, but at the age of 35 I couldn’t help thinking he’s just talking a lot clever nonsense. Which didn’t make the book less enjoyable, however.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to get to the bus stand from the train station in Aurangabad?
- 2 Things to do in Aurangabad and places to visit
- 3 Best time to visit Aurangabad
- 4 Where to eat in Aurangabad?
- 5 Where to stay in Aurangabad?
How to get to the bus stand from the train station in Aurangabad?
When it became light, I took an auto to the bus stand. The distance between the train station and the bus stand in Aurangabad is merely 2 km, so it was a very short journey. I’m not a haggling type at all, and of course the rickshaw driver took advantage of me, but I decided to think positive and enjoy the first glimpses of the city.
Things to do in Aurangabad and places to visit
Aurangabad, a city with 400-year-old history, was named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. It’s also known as “The city of Gates” – there were 52 gates, corresponding to the number of suburbs walled within the city in order to protect them from the invasions of the Marathas. 4 principal and 9 subordinate gates survived till our time. I’ve seen some of them passing by, but didn’t stop to have a better look, considering how little time I had for both the city and Ellora Caves. However, even a quick glance at these monuments adds up to the positive image of the city with intriguing past. Other places to visit in Aurangabad include:
Daulatabad means “City of Prosperity”, though I’m not sure why – apparently it was abandoned in the 14th century due to the lack of water. On my way from Aurangabad to ElIora caves I could only take a quick photo of this magnificent pillar and ruins of Daulatabad fort on the hilltop. But I have a feeling that exploring this place would have been a treat. This fort had an excellent defense system and was never taken by force – probably a 200 m high pointy hill had a lot to do with that 🙂
Entry fees: 15 Rs. for Indian visitors, 200 Rs. for foreigners
“Tomb of the Lady”, “Mini Taj Mahal”, “Taj of the Deccan”– these are the names for Bibi Ka-Maqbara in Aurangabad, built by Azam Shah in memory of his mother.
Of course, the Taj is absolutely unique – every square millimeter of its marble work manifests perfection. But still, the similarity between the two structures is undeniable.
Entry fees: 5 Rs.
Panchakki is the water mill that used to grind grains into flour for the pilgrims. The place is serene and quiet, with a huge water reservoir and an old banyan tree to sit under its shady branches and ponder upon the secrets of an ancient engineering system. If you don’t feel like pondering, then simply read the Panchakki board 🙂 It says that the mill has its own underground channel and the actual water source is 6 km away from the city. The mill is driven by the power of water falling into the reservoir. It was constructed to commemorate Baba Musafir Shah, who was a well known religious preceptor. The board states that he migrated to Aurangabad from “a Russian town Gazdavan (Bukhara)”, but I’ve never heard of any Gazdavan in Russia, and Bukhara is in Uzbekistan, of course.
I don’t have a good picture of this place, because my battery completely died after taking hundreds of photos in Ellora caves. I just tried my luck once and managed to capture this:
Chatrapati Shivaji Museum
I was very eager to visit a museum dedicated to the fearless king, showcasing collections of weaponry, coins and wood craft. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
Siddhartha garden and zoo
Entry fees to the zoo: 50 Rs.
It’s a cozy garden with a nice fountain, many flowering plants and plenty of activities for kids – rides, slides, toy train and so on. There were quite a few animals in the zoo, including a decent collection of reptiles. However, I was a bit uncomfortable about the way the lions and tigers were kept – the animals were separated from the visitors by a low fence and a deep ditch, and I wasn’t convinced they couldn’t overcome these obstacles if they really wanted to. Fortunately, the animals looked well fed and satisfied.
Why would I include a mall into a list of places to visit in Aurangabad? Well, it’s an excellent place to kill time waiting for the train home. It’s not a good idea to keep exploring a new city after it becomes dark, but a mall provides a safe air-conditioned environment with a decent food court, shops, movie theater and so on. The Prozone Mall in Aurangabad occupies a huge territory – it’s the first horizontally designed mall in the country.
Best time to visit Aurangabad
I’ve been to the city just after the monsoon, and there was a lot of greenery both in the city and in the suburbs. The temperature was manageable and occasional rains didn’t hurt either. All in all, it was a very pleasant time to visit.
To check out even more activities in one day in Aurangabad, click the image below:
Where to eat in Aurangabad?
And with so many things to do in Aurangabad, I bet you’d be hungry, so the question is… Where to eat in the city? Well, I’m not a gourmand, and while I appreciate local cuisines, I’ll easily sacrifice the food scene if I’m short of time. I had my lunch in one of the small restaurants near Ellora caves, and their menu was pretty standard:
But when I was researching about Aurangabad, people were recommending Kareem‘s restaurant for Mughlai cuisine (Shop No. A1-A3, Motiwala Complex, Nirala Bazar) and Shiva’s family restaurant for vegetarian dishes (their website).
Where to stay in Aurangabad?
I spent only one day in Aurangabad, so I didn’t need any accommodation – my train arrived early in the morning, then I spent half a day exploring the Ellora caves, and the remaining hours were dedicated to visiting places around the city. At 21.35 I boarded the Nandigram Express to reach home at 5.35 next morning. However, if I wanted to stay longer, finding a budget accommodation is not a problem in Aurangabad. A quick search on booking.com will show a lot of option under 1000 Rs.
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